Sioux Falls, SD- Three Red Wolf pups were born at the Great Plains Zoo, the Zoo announced Thursday. Red Wolves are a critically endangered species. The pups, all female, were born to mother “Ayasha” and father “Nayati” on April 10 and are now starting to make their first outdoor appearances.
The pups weighed less than a pound at birth and have grown to approximately six pounds each. The Zoo’s animal care staff monitored the birth through video cameras and continues to observe the new family. This is the third litter for mother Ayasha but the first for the pair.
“The Red Wolf is one of the world’s most endangered species with fewer than 300 individuals in existence today,” said Elizabeth A. Whealy, President and CEO of the Great Plains Zoo. “These pups are important not just to the Great Plains Zoo, but to the survival of the species as a whole. Thanks to the important work of zoos, we are able to use the Red Wolf as a success story for endangered species conservation efforts.”
Just like human newborns, the pups currently spend much of their time sleeping, eating and bonding with their family. The pups can now choose to be on exhibit, viewable by the public, at any time. The pups’ father, Nayati, can be seen daily in the Red Wolf exhibit.
Red Wolves were once common throughout the eastern and south central United States, but by the early 1900s, Red Wolf populations had fallen victim to predator control programs and habitat destruction.
In 1980, they were declared extinct in the wild by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the remaining individuals were brought into captivity in an effort to preserve the species. Thanks to zoos working together through the Association of Zoos & Aquarium’s endangered species breeding program, Red Wolves were brought back from the brink of extinction and were eventually reintroduced into the wild.
Today, about 100 Red Wolves roam their native habitats in eastern North Carolina. The Great Plains Zoo has been a successful contributor to the AZA’s endangered species breeding program, breeding Red Wolves since 1993.
The Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last admission at 4 p.m. each day.
Visit the Zoo online at www.greatzoo.org or call 605-367-7003 for more information about the Zoo and Museum.